It sounds like you hit a big learning curve. All the articles I've read (car craft, hotrod, Chevy High Performance) say 32-34 degrees total for the Vortec heads. I personally run about 13 degrees initial and 33 degrees total at about 3200 rpm. I also have a very accurate magnetic pickup Accel Dist. Anyway have you read the new CHP? In the Q&A section a guy asked about the Vortec valve train. I think he wanted to run .469 of lift and since CHP ran more then that on the HT 383 would it be fine for him. The replied was that they messed up and shouldn't have done that. They also said you shouldn't run anything bigger then .420 lift without machining the heads because of coil bind. You may remember that we have the same engine combo, and mine has been experiencing bad valve train problems for about three months on the #5 cylinder. I'm guessing a worn cam lobe from coil bind, because under the valve cover everything looks good but I have 240 cranking PSI on #5 and 205 on the rest. Just something to think about.